Home » Archive » Experiencing insight: which comes first, age or beauty?

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

The whole idea we’re talking about here is based on a group of eclectic and divergent innovators tackling focused opportunities together to create experimental companies … really, really quickly.

A few days ago, another friend wrote in to suggest that insight is too much a function of experience to expect anything remarkable from this kind of crowd. Ultimately their experience is too shallow to drive out anything tight enough to commercialize.

From his note: “Sometimes I wonder if being insightful is not more a function of experience at this stage. Oh, I always hope there are moments of brilliance of course, but how does one distinguish between what questions should be parroted as each opportunity presents itself versus ‘thought gems’? Even race horses know that all that needs to be done is to run around the tack one more time … though the prep consists of all sorts of training/experience.”

In the reply back I suggest that the ability to generate insight is independent of experience. Some are insightful right from the start.

But insight becomes a gem when one knows what to do with it. Experience defines that understanding. This is why a hardcore team is critical – each one can see stuff no one else will notice, but there are lots of times when the hard work is just figuring out what to do about it.

Leveraging the horse race example, there’s a gorgeous tension between experience and insight. In a high-end horse race the experience/muscle is probably close to equal across the board. It’s the combination of horse and rider that creates the insight to see the edge needed to win the race.

It’s muscle that gets them across the line, but the money’s made on insight.

Now, let’s pan away from the race to take a look in the stands.

Tucked in among all those rabid fans and grizzled gamblers are a few who came just for a novel experience. Of those new to the races and novice among horses, is it impossible that one or two of them are sharp enough … insightful enough … to pick out the winning horse? Better yet, might one or two completely comprehend the narrow set of dynamics that determine winners from losers?

As the leaders pound around the last corner to step into the last stretch, is it inconceivable to see a novice up on her feet bellowing enthusiastically to exactly the right rider, begging him to do exactly the right thing, anticipating exactly the right effort from the right horse?

Why is this surprising? Better yet, why will those with more experience heavily discount this kind of insight?

And while those grizzled gamblers sit smirking in their seats with empty wallets in their pockets, what opportunity just whisked by?

Image posted by keiran
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